North central Florida voters have supported state senator and former house representative Jason Brodeur based as on his campaign promises to limit government bureaucracy. For more than a decade, the rising star in Florida politics developed a reputation as one of the most conservative members of Florida’s legislature which is why one of his latest bills came as a major surprise and drew national attention from conservatives including Newt Gingrich.
Brodeur’s bill, SB 1316, would require a written record of whether a blogger is being paid to write an online post about the governor, another Florida Cabinet official, or a state legislator, as well as who pays them. Bloggers would be fined $25 a day, up to $2,500, if they fail to provide the information.
The bill immediately sparked controversy, landing at the top of the Drudge Report. Political pundits across the state and the nation immediately responded with criticism for what they deemed as an oppressive, big brother stance against free speech. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tweeted, “The idea that bloggers criticizing a politician should register with the government is insane. It is an embarrassment that it is a Republican state legislator in Florida who introduced a bill to that effect. He should withdraw it immediately.”
Florida political talk show host Ed Dean shared his commentary on Brodeur’s bill via a Facebook post that read: “A new Florida proposal would make bloggers who write about Gov. DeSantis, the AG or any other members of the Florida executive cabinet or legislature MUST register with the state or face fines. And this didn’t come from a Democrat but from a GOP State Senator Jason Brodeur. What happen, you got some bad publicity or something? Totally against free speech and Unconstitutional. Wokeism from my side of the aisle.”
Brodeur defended his bill on Twitter, writing: “Do you want to know the truth about the so-called “blogger” bill? It brings the current pay-to-play scheme to light and gives voters clarity as to who is influencing their elected officials, just like how we treat lobbyists. It’s an electioneering issue, not a free speech issue”
Florida First Amendment Foundation, whose executive director Bobby Block compared the bill to similar laws in “apartheid South Africa, the countries behind the Iron Curtain, the USSR, Zaire, Burkina Faso, and socialist Ethiopia.”
In 2014 Russia’s President Vladimir Putin implemented a policy known as the “blogger’s law” which required bloggers with more than 3,000 readers to register with the Roskomnadzor, the country’s agency for media oversight. No word has come from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis yet on if he would sign the bill if it passed through the Florida House and Florida Senate.
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